Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Saturday urged his fellow Republicans to move on from the 2020 presidential election, offering a thinly veiled dig at former President Donald Trump and his continued election grievances.
Without naming Trump, Kemp’ said at a private Republican National Committee donor retreat in Nashville that “not a single swing voter in a single swing state will vote for our nominee if they choose to talk about the 2020 election being stolen.”
“To voters trying to pay their rent … make their car payment … or put their kids through college … 2020 is ancient history,” Kemp said, according to his prepared remarks, which were obtained by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Trump, who announced his reelection campaign last fall, has repeatedly argued since leaving office that Republicans cannot have a successful future – either at the ballot box or legislatively – if they turn a blind eye to the past.
Tension between Trump and Kemp has been simmering for years. When Kemp refused to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia, Trump made the governor his No. 1 enemy, publicly railing against him throughout 2021 and recruiting former US Sen. David Perdue to challenge Kemp in a GOP primary. Through it all, Trump failed to draw Kemp into a fight, and the governor won his 2022 primary overwhelmingly before handily defeating Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams in the November general election.
Also in the midterm elections, candidates who backed Trump’s false election claims did poorly in key swing states the former president will need to win back the White House in 2024.
Further complicating Trump’s bid is a cloud of legal woes. In New York, a hush money payment to an adult-film star shortly before the 2016 election has resulted in his indictment by a Manhattan grand jury over his alleged role in the scheme – the first time in American history that a current or former president faces criminal charges.
And in Atlanta, a select grand jury has investigated efforts by Trump and allies to overturn his election loss in Georgia in 2020.
Kemp made direct mention of these investigations Saturday, according to his prepared remarks, calling the probes distractions that could take the Republican Party off course and away from issues voters care about.
“Being distracted by what is happening at the Manhattan and Fulton County district attorney offices is not going to win us back the White House in 2024,” Kemp said. “The media and Democrats would love nothing more than for us to talk about this from sun-up to sundown until next November.”
“But here’s the truth: Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg’s investigations into allegations of the past don’t help hardworking Americans battling high grocery prices, growing pain at the gas pump or violent crime plaguing their neighborhoods,” he continued, referring to the district attorneys of Fulton County, Georgia, and Manhattan respectively.
“In fact, the person they help the most is Joe Biden.”